Field Promotion

#1
I know it's the stuff of old "Commando" comic books, when Pte Snooks is the last heroic member of the patrol left standing and the CO anoints him with the muzzle of his Webley and makes him a Sgt, but in the real world has this ever happened?

I'm assuming that in massive conflicts (WW1/ WW2/ Korea etc) when casualties were high that it was an operational imperative to create new NCOs and officers, but nowadays can a CO just promote somebody to satsify an operational imperative or simply because the soldier concerned has performed extremely well in the field? What rank is the army allowed to promote to and are field commissions feasible if not actually practice?

Cheers

Veg
 
#2
I believe the term is acting, or "Brevet"-rank?

I know the CO can just give you you're first stripe (hence PJ NCOs courses are unit-run internally, not by Warminster or wherever else).
 

BuggerAll

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#3
#4
I believe any CO can make someone up in rank through the grant of local or acting rank. I also believe it is possible for him/her to commission someone (although nowadays this has to be ratified by an army district board & Maj. Gen.).

this, however be somewhat out of date....
 
#6
A booty got his full screw in some battle in Dubya Dubya Two. Something to do with him Taking over when his Section Commander bought it during an assault on some Machine guns. Went on to take a few MG positions then set up a 5 man Ambush on a German Resupply Convoy. Think he got the DSM or DCM or something too!
 
#7
Yes you can get promoted 'in the field' but it doesn't really happen these days. It was used a lot in WW1 and 2 because of heavy casualty figures and they needed to keep a semblance of structure and authority.

Being commissioned from the ranks always required some sort of formal instruction at RMAS but similiar to what I'd previously said, some sgts and above got accelerated because of the shortage of subalterns in the two wars. Mostly down to the fact that subalterns were out front waving a riding crop and looking like subalterns.

I remember a quote by Gen John Strawson from his memoirs of fighting in the Western Desert in 1940 which went something like; "The Irish Hussars went into battle with their Cornets riding on top of the turrets of their tanks, beating the sides with their riding crops. A practice only curtailed by the ever diminishing number of available Cornets"
 
#8
Bad_Crow said:
A booty got his full screw in some battle in Dubya Dubya Two. Something to do with him Taking over when his Section Commander bought it during an assault on some Machine guns. Went on to take a few MG positions then set up a 5 man Ambush on a German Resupply Convoy. Think he got the DSM or DCM or something too!
My father was awarded an immediate battlefield commission in Italy 1944 after his involvement in two actions within a period of 15 days.

As a 23 year old WO11 he received the MM for an action at Monte Casino. Two weeks later, he took over command of a company during a Battalion daylight attack across open ground, swept by machinegun fire, when both the OC and 2 I/C were wounded and the remaining company subalterns were too inexperienced.
 
#9
Was your father then shipped back to RMAS for instruction? At any point?
 
#10
GDav said:
Was your father then shipped back to RMAS for instruction? At any point?
No. Shortly after that, he was wounded in another action. At some time or other, I believe he did a “Knife & Fork” course as it was called then. He retired about 1958.

Both actions were well documented. I makes for interesting reading!
 
#11
My late father, a former wartime S/Sgt in the GPR, was the Intelligence Sergeant in 13 Para in 1953 and given a field promotion to Lt by a visiting general during an exercise. A year later he was promoted to Captain and finally retired as Major. At no time did he ever attend RMAS.
 

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#12
Whilst googling to confirm something I remembered, I came across this
Sorry it only partly updates the thread but read it and weep at what we seem to have lost.
This is something that comes from Beevor
Anthony Beevor (he who wrote Stalingrad, Berlin etc.) writes in Inside the British Army (ISBN 0-7011-3465-8)
I had failed to envisage the impact which the last decade (writing in 1990) of social change has had on an institution rooted in traditional values. That contradiction in terms, a military yuppie, would have been unthinkable in the past and at first I tended to discount the appalled comments from generals about ‘Thatcher’s Children’ as one of those standard complaints against the younger generation, but after hearing relentlessly similar accounts from officers all the way down to captain, including many who were far from stuffy, I accepted that a real transformation had taken place.
The Army had survived the revolutionary, anti-militarist Sixties utterly untouched. The Eighties brought about the most dramatic and devastating social change within a single generation.
As I knew from my own experience, sergeants and sergeant-majors had never had a high regard for subalterns but now I found that their worries about the future dwarfed any previous grumbles, The Army, they felt, had become thoroughly contaminated by careerism: all too often nowadays officers treat the regiment as little more than a ladder for their own advancement. …………………..
Sergeants were also dismayed at the change in recruits they had been getting since about 1987. Right across the Army, almost everyone put their finger on that year although nobody can give a satisfactory explanation. Not only has there been a significant decline in the standard of recruits, but their attitudes are completely different. They are not necessarily insubordinate, one SNCO explained, they just do not understand what authority or rank mean. They had little grasp on reality and their expectations of the Army were based on film fantasies.
Sorry Veg if this starts them off down the wrong track.
 
#13
We had an officer attached to our unit who had substantial rank of Lt, was given local rank of Captain by our CO: a decision which the Brigade Commander overturned.

Out of courtesy, he continued to be referred to as Captain X, even though he'd been ordered to put his Lt's rank slides back on.

In Richard Holmes' Tommy, there's an account of an officer who was, I think, substantial Captain, brevet-Lt-Col, and acting Major-General. WWI, obviously.

sm
 
#14
dundrillin said:
My late father, a former wartime S/Sgt in the GPR, was the Intelligence Sergeant in 13 Para in 1953 and given a field promotion to Lt by a visiting general during an exercise. A year later he was promoted to Captain and finally retired as Major. At no time did he ever attend RMAS.
That's certainly an unusual case.
 
#16
In the Sharpe's Rifles series -

The Forlorn Hope

The logic behind the Forlorn Hope was pretty much a question of time. A musket typically took 20-30 secs to reload. So did a cannon. The Forlorn Hope was a small group of men sent ahead to trigger the defenders initial volley. This would (theoretically) give the main storming party 20+ seconds to climb the breach before the defenders were able to fire again. Very few men survived a forlorn hope. To do so was to be guaranteed promotion.

The officer leading the forlorn hope was usually a fairly junior lieutenant. While purchase and influence still had a major influence on promotion, restrictions had been placed on them by the Horse Guards (under the much maligned Duke of York). Under the new regulations, the commission of an officer who died on active service went to the senior lieutenant in the battalion.

Harry Smith asked to lead the forlorn hope at Ciudad Rodrigo. At the time he had effectively been commanding a brigade for some time, but was still only a regimental lieutenant. (Regimental rank determined his pay and position when not on active service or upon retirement.) Being intelligent and ambitious, he was impatient for promotion. The officer in charge refused his request on the grounds that:

* He was 1/95's senior lieutenant and would likely receive his promotion by morning
* As an experienced officer he was too valuable to throw away.

As it turned out, one of Harry's close friends, Captain Uniacke, was killed and Harry took over his company, but was too distraught to celebrate.
The Sharpe Edge

Like Harry Smith, Sharpe's request to lead a forlorn hope at Badajoz was turned down and for pretty much the same reasons. Like Harry Smith, Sharpe was a "Captain by morning" but (given Sharpe's anomalous position) whether this was a regimental or field rank is open to question.

Taken from Short Barrels and Long Bumpers.
 
#17
There used to be an old Soldier's Story about the rank of King's Corporal. This usually involved a Tom being promoted in the field - literally. This act would have taken place during or immediately after an action.
Once promoted as King's Corporal, myth had it that only the King could bust him.
A further story (from GOM's Dad, so it's probably F6) is that he served with a chap who had been thus promoted. The guy made Sergeant and then there was a bit of unpleasantness.
This being early 50's, the notes went before the GOC and his nibs sent down words to the effect that '.........King's Corporal is a myth and is not supported by KRs or the Army Act. However, if the Army functions on its history, who am I to say no?'
End result: No CM and subsequent investigation exonerated the accused.
 
#18
My memory is that the CO of a unit can award local rank to anybody under his command (it happened in GW1 for the Transition to War established slots for 4 Armoured Brigade) - the Brigade Commander promoted a lot of people overnight - of course local rank is unpaid.

I'm not aware of any acting or substantive promotions in the field - I'm pretty certain it would be tied in with the powers of a Commanding Officer from Queens Regulations that applied at the time and would have been local rank that was later substantiated and backdated if required. There is probably an AGAI around about it as well, but I'm not sure about that - it's been a while.

Acting and Substantive rank is paid and is awarded by the organisation (In my case, I was in the RCT, so RCT Records "managed" it). !!!
 
#19
NAP6W said:
In the Sharpe's Rifles series -

The Forlorn Hope

The logic behind the Forlorn Hope was pretty much a question of time. A musket typically took 20-30 secs to reload. So did a cannon. The Forlorn Hope was a small group of men sent ahead to trigger the defenders initial volley. This would (theoretically) give the main storming party 20+ seconds to climb the breach before the defenders were able to fire again. Very few men survived a forlorn hope. To do so was to be guaranteed promotion.

The officer leading the forlorn hope was usually a fairly junior lieutenant. While purchase and influence still had a major influence on promotion, restrictions had been placed on them by the Horse Guards (under the much maligned Duke of York). Under the new regulations, the commission of an officer who died on active service went to the senior lieutenant in the battalion.

Harry Smith asked to lead the forlorn hope at Ciudad Rodrigo. At the time he had effectively been commanding a brigade for some time, but was still only a regimental lieutenant. (Regimental rank determined his pay and position when not on active service or upon retirement.) Being intelligent and ambitious, he was impatient for promotion. The officer in charge refused his request on the grounds that:

* He was 1/95's senior lieutenant and would likely receive his promotion by morning
* As an experienced officer he was too valuable to throw away.

As it turned out, one of Harry's close friends, Captain Uniacke, was killed and Harry took over his company, but was too distraught to celebrate.
The Sharpe Edge

Like Harry Smith, Sharpe's request to lead a forlorn hope at Badajoz was turned down and for pretty much the same reasons. Like Harry Smith, Sharpe was a "Captain by morning" but (given Sharpe's anomalous position) whether this was a regimental or field rank is open to question.

Taken from Short Barrels and Long Bumpers.
I didn't know Sharpe was for real? I'm sure his mate Flashman was made a padre in the field for some reason. Then there was them 2 sergeants in India - one of them got made a God. That beats subby doesn't it. Then there was a Toy Soldier who got upgraded clockwork.
 
#20
Whats Brevet rank then? How is it different from Acting or Substantive rank?
 

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